Love, Family, Education, and Poverty

Hello, it’s been a while. I’ve been busy with work, book reading, anime, drama, and fangirling (seriously!). But anyway, I have meant to write about this topic but I just couldn’t get my ass to start so I guess now is a good time to post one. Well, I am not sure what to title this post with, but I guess it’s a little all of four of them and how they are actually connected or intertwined?

Before I start talking about them, maybe I need to give some background info? This all is a real story, a personal familial story, i.e. it happened in my family as I heard from my parents especially my Mom. Here I just want to compare and reflect on how my parents were raised and how they felt about their respective families. I guess, maybe, some of you can learn and perhaps reflect on them too.

Well, my writing would center around my grandmas, though, so maybe I need to tell you about them first. My paternal grandma, my grandmother from my father’s side, my father’s mother, has passed away. Henceforth, I’ll call her my late grandma. Meanwhile, my maternal grandma, my grandmother from my mother’s side is, thankfully (?), still alive. Henceforth, I’ll call her my granny. That way you’ll know who or which grandmother I’m talking about later.

So, okay, let’s talk about my father’s side first. My Dad’s family was poor, really really poor. I’m not sure how to convey to you their poverty, but just for an example so you can imagine how poor they were: My Dad’s family did not have some land. They built a simple small house on someone else’s land, someone’s yard, someone who’s kind enough to let them use the space to live. I don’t want to call them homeless because they did have a home, a family they belonged to, one they could return to. But in a way, maybe they were “houseless” because they could be kicked out anytime and they would not have a place to stay unless somebody else would be kind enough to help them. That’s how poor my Dad’s family was. Well, maybe that’s why my granny didn’t really like my Dad marrying my Mom back then. But that’s not what we’re gonna talk about today, so let’s move back to the topic.

My mother’s side. I cannot say that Mom’s family was rich, but compared to how my Dad’s family was, I think I can say that my Mom’s family wasn’t that poor. Their house was not grand but at least they’d built it on their own land. They also owned a small farm to work on. In a way, my Mom’s family fared better than my Dad’s. And maybe some of you would think that Mom was smarter, happier, or better educated than my Dad, but (not) surprise, actually that wasn’t how it is. So let’s see how they grew and felt having these different family backgrounds. (Oh, by the way, both my Dad and my Mom had brothers and sisters. I guess it’s common for people in the old days to have many children. This aspect wasn’t so different between them, so I am not really going to talk more about it here).

Love and Family
Well, this section is actually more about stay-home (or full-time) Mom vs working-outside Mom. But before we talk further about it, I need to save my ass make a disclaimer: Personally, I don’t like this “full-time Mom” terminology against “working Mom” terminology because, I believe, there’s so such a thing as a part-time Mom. Even if we work outside, we’ll always be a Mom to our kids, right? And even if we don’t officially work outside or in the office, it doesn’t mean we’re not working. Some people get the habit of saying one profession as “just/only/mere housewife” when we’re not working outside or in the office, but look, the work that a housewife does (such as cleaning up the house, cooking, taking care of the kids, etc.) actually costs a lot if done by a housemaid. So there are no such things as a full-time Mom or a working Mom because all Moms are full-time and all Moms are not “just” housewives, i.e. all Moms are working a tough job in the family. I hope we’re all clear here, but just for the sake of difference, to make it easier to understand my Dad’s and my Mom’s family situation, I guess I’ll be using stay-home Mom vs working-outside Mom. 

The stay-home Mom would be my granny. The working-outside Mom was my late grandma. (Are these still confusing? Or should I use Granny A and Grandma B to make it more distinct?) But, anyway, my late grandma was a “merchant.” She was hardly at home with her kids. She went to the (traditional) market to sell local farming products such as coconuts and veggies. Mostly she got these from other merchants or from the farmers, and then she sold it by trying to make a little profit. (Do I make sense? I’m not sure how to explain how economics works. LoL). But, well, Mom said that my late grandma didn’t always make a profit. Quite the contrary, she was often at loss. That was because, oftentimes, other merchants entrusted her to sell the goods at certain prices but because they didn’t sell, my late grandma just went ahead and sold them at lower prices but then she had to pay the difference to the merchants who owned the products. (Not sure if it’s okay to call it stupid, but I love my late grandma so let’s just say that she’s bad at doing business^^). My late grandma would spend most of her time in the market, leaving home early in the morning and going back home in the late afternoon. And by the way, in case you’re wondering, I know my late grandma is my Dad’s father, but my Dad is not really good at telling stories, so it’s basically my Mom that did the talking; my Dad was there to confirm 😀

Now, my granny. Until some years ago, she used to have a store of her own. She sold people’s daily needs like soap, candles, lightbulbs, etc. including snacks and veggies or dishes or general groceries, especially in the morning. My granny is a stay-home Mom because she spent most of her time at home. She only went out to get the goods to restock his store. (Not sure if I am explaining clearly, but I hope you know what I mean, like, she went out to the bigger stores in the traditional market to get the goods that she’d sell in her store, so it wouldn’t take long; hence, she’s a stay-home Mom). So that’s how it was.

Seeing from how much time my late grandma spent outside and how much time my granny spent at home, you might think that my Mom felt more loved and attended better than my Dad. But it ain’t true. From what I can see, till the day my grandma died, my Dad and his siblings remained respectful to my grandma. I can see how much they respect and love my grandma. On the other hand, when I asked my Mom how she felt about granny, she said she didn’t remember any lovely memories with her. She reminisced how we, my Mom and me and my sister and brother, often joked and laughed together when we were kids. But Mom didn’t remember ever doing it with my granny. And even now, it looks like granny’s kids do not really love being with granny.

Well, I feel bad for speaking ill of my granny. It’s not that I hate her or something. But just because we love someone, it doesn’t mean we can deny the bad things about them, right? I purposefully share this for us to learn: my point is that it is not just about how much time you spend at home as a Mom, what matters more is how much attention you give them, how much effort you make to show them that you love them.

In my Mom’s and my Dad’s case, I asked her how so. She said that even though my late grandma spent lots of time outside (working in the market), she always cared for her kids, like reminding them to take a bath, to go study, and buy them nice food and things when she had money (even though sometimes she actually had debts to pay to others. LoL Btw, this is not a good example, but this is another discussion, so let’s let it slide for now🙈). In contrast, my granny didn’t do such things. According to Mom, she was always angry. She always asked Mom to help with work but never really rewarded her with nice food or things she wanted. So maybe it left some resentment not only in Mom but also in her siblings? Well, I feel so sorry for Mom, but I’m glad that my Mom isn’t like that.

As for me, we were poor. My mom might not work in the office but she helped with the farm work. She planted rice, cleaned the field, etc. And of course, she did the household chores too, cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc. My Mom often told me stories of her childhood. We kinda built (or imagined?) our dreams together. (Damn, now I’m crying. Sorry, I’m such a crybaby when it comes to family matters). We would fantasize about what we would do if we were rich. We would talk about what we liked and didn’t like. We would talk about what we didn’t like about others and laugh and commit to not being like them. Well, we were poor and the technology wasn’t so advanced, we didn’t have our gadgets to busy ourselves with. All we had was each other, so, there. My Mom is great. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be as great as her. But I know that she loves me because I always feel loved. Even until now, I feel like it’s Mom who understands me the best.  

But, well, again, I often see some people feel guilty about not being able to stay home all the time for their kids because they have to work outside. (I guess I wrote it here.) And sometimes it’s the opposite, some people are bashed or feel guilty because they don’t work outside and become “just” housewives. But I guess that’s all unnecessary. Because again, I’m repeating myself here: what matters more is how much attention you give them, how much efforts you make to show them that you love them. What’s important is that you make them feel loved. Make sure your love reaches them.

Poverty and Education
This post has been so long, but if I wrote this in a separate post, that might end up being too short, and I don’t like explaining the background all over again, so please bear with me, and I hope you can keep reading. I’ll pretend that you do.

As a reminder, both my Mom and my Dad didn’t finish elementary school.

So, well, seeing from my Mom’s and my Dad’s backgrounds, you could say that my Mom’s family could afford school better than my Dad’s, but again, that’s not the case. My Dad and his siblings went to school even though some of them ended up dropping out for some reason. But they are literate, i.e. they could read and write, and whatnots. And they are smart. My Dad could actually do basic math (such as calculation) faster than I do without using a calculator.

On the other hand, it was hard for Mom to go to school. She wanted to go to school like her neighbor peers and she believed granny could actually afford to buy school stuff for her, but granny didn’t care. She thought school wasn’t important, so instead of sending Mom to school, she asked Mom to help with the farm work, cutting grass for the cattle, helping with the harvest, etc. Mom somehow managed to go on her own, learning to read and write at school by tagging along with her peers who went to school. (I guess schools weren’t as strict back then?). She wasn’t officially registered as a student so she didn’t get the benefits other students got. For example, when the other students got books, food, etc. from the govt, my Mom didn’t get it because she wasn’t acknowledged as a student and all because my grandparents refused to officially register her as a student because they didn’t want to spend money on the registration fee, uniform, etc. (By the way, my Mom’s story about this is actually more and sad, but if I wrote it here, it would be too long, so let’s not). But I mean, you get the idea, right? Mom wanted to attend school, but she couldn’t. Her older siblings were illiterate; they literally couldn’t read and write in any language. Even for her youngest sibling, it’s my Dad – after he married Mom – who took him to school and registered him as a student. My Mom had to stop tagging along to school after 3rd grade of elementary school, by the way. So that’s where she stopped learning at school. That’s why I never thought people like my Mom as stupid. She just didn’t get the chance to study and learn is all.

So, well, what’s the point of telling you this? Well, aside from poverty, maybe it’s about mindset? My Dad’s family was very poor but they were still supportive towards their kids’ education. Meanwhile, my Mom’s family wasn’t as poor but they didn’t think education was important. So maybe don’t let poverty stop you from learning and pursuing education? Sometimes we have to work harder, including trying to get scholarships, to get a good education, but, really, please don’t let our being poor prevent us from getting proper education?

Well, I know that poverty is a systemic problem, poor people and rich people have different access to education, and the rich often have privileges that the poor don’t. Really, my post is not to deny that. Because again, who knows that in the past, my paternal great great grandparents were actually rich and so they’d been used to school, so even though they were poor when it came to my late grandma generation, they’d embraced education as a must or as a part of their life? And perhaps, who knows that my maternal great great grandparents were actually poor and all they knew to improve their life was working hard? They weren’t familiar with schools and hence thought that it wasn’t important. We never know, right? But again, isn’t this another reminder? Supposed what I said was true, i.e. that my paternal great great granparents were rich but my Dad was poor, and that my maternal great great grandparents were poor but my Mom wasn’t as poor, if these were true, doesn’t it tell you that life goes in cycles? I’m not sure what proverbs or idioms to use, but in Indonesian, we have this saying, “Roda kehidupan berputar,” meaning “the wheels of life keep rolling.” Well, not sure if it’s the best translation, and for now I’m too lazy to browse, but what I mean is that sometimes we’re on top, sometimes we’re at the bottom, there are ups and downs. Who can guarantee that we and our descendants will forever be rich? Who can guarantee that we will forever be poor? So maybe stay hopeful when we’re at the bottom, and stay humble when we’re on top?

Well, I’ve been writing a lot. So maybe that’s all for now? Not sure when I can post again, especially because I often have some troubles logging in and posting a new post here 😥 but see you when I see you ^^

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *